Twitter (recently rebranded as X) received the lowest score among five major tech platforms when evaluated for its efforts to combat climate change misinformation, according to the Climate of Misinformation report by Climate Action Against Disinformation. The report assessed Meta, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter for their content moderation policies and actions taken to counter inaccurate climate information, such as climate denialism. Comprising numerous international climate and anti-disinformation organizations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the group released the report to raise awareness of climate misinformation on major platforms, claiming that big tech has actively contributed to the proliferation of climate denial.
Poor ranking of Twitter in the survey resulted from its failure to meet nearly all of the organization’s criteria for climate change misinformation policies. These criteria encompassed providing clear and publicly accessible information on climate science and articulating policies regarding actions taken against the spread of misinformation. The report highlighted that Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last year had added to the confusion surrounding policy enforcement and content decision-making.
The report noted, “Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company has created uncertainty about which policies are still standing and which are not.”
Tech platforms have long grappled with developing effective and coherent content moderation policies. Events like the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 US presidential election exacerbated the spread of misinformation online. Amidst conservative backlash and labor cuts within the tech industry, many companies have deprioritized content moderation, potentially allowing misinformation to flourish on their platforms.
While the other platforms performed better, none achieved a particularly high score on the report’s scale. Pinterest received the highest score with 12 points out of a possible 21. Common issues included the absence of clear definitions for climate misinformation, inadequate enforcement of existing policies transparently, and insufficient evidence demonstrating that these policies were applied consistently across different languages. None of the companies published public reports outlining the impact of their algorithmic changes on climate misinformation, according to the report.
The authors of the report recommend that big tech companies implement various changes to their policies. These changes include creating transparent climate guidelines and revising privacy policies to disclose when they sell private data to advertisers associated with the fossil fuel industry.